When Russia faces uncomfortable accusations from abroad, the Kremlin normally lashes back with official declarations and scornful comments on state television. But when the Democratic National Committee and cybersecurity experts told The Washington Post that Russian government hackers had stolen an entire database of opposition research on presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, officials here met the accusations with little more than a simple denial and a shrug. “Usually these kinds of leaks take place not because hackers broke in, but, as any professional will tell you, because someone simply forgot the password or set the simple password 123456,” German Klimenko, Putin’s top Internet adviser, said in remarks carried by the RIA Novosti state news agency. “Well, it’s always simpler to explain this away as the intrigues of enemies, rather than one’s own incompetence.”
“I absolutely rule out the possibility that the government or government agencies were involved in this,” Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, told journalists in a curt statement.
Western officials have accused Russia of conducting a campaign of high-profile hacking attacks that have included cyberattacks in 2007 against Estonia, a 2014 assault on Ukraine’s power grid and a breach of the White House’s unclassified email server last year. The latest revelations risked plunging the Kremlin into the midst of a heated U.S. election cycle that has captured the attention of a Moscow elite eager for change in Washington.